Stratford4Europe Asks On The Risk To Our NHS, “Brexit: Is It Worth It?”

Whilst the Brexiteers in charge of Brexiting continue to contradict themselves and each other, as well as deny promises made during the referendum campaign, the House of Commons Select Committees are systematically and methodically analysing the impact Brexit will have on the various aspects of our daily lives. Experts (yes, experts!) from both sides of the campaign are invited to submit evidence to these inquiries and a series of reports are being churned out. In other words, undertaking the painstaking, rigorous assessments that the public had been led to believe were already in existence.

Who amongst us does not have a concern for their health or that of their loved ones?  The Health and Social Care Committee, chaired by Sarah Wollaston MP (Cons), is appointed by the House of Commons to examine the policy, administration and expenditure of the Department of Health and Social Care and its associated bodies. They have undertaken an inquiry as to the impact of Brexit upon medicines, medical devices and substances of human origin.

From the launch of the inquiry, “The UK’ s withdrawal from the European Union (EU) and the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) means new regulatory arrangements must be put in place from 29 March 2019 to guarantee the safe and effective supply of medicines, medical devices, medical products and substances of human origin in the UK. Patients, the NHS and the UK’s life science industry need certainty about what the UK’s regulatory arrangements will be after Brexit and a smooth transition towards them. There are also major implications for the future of medical research and development. The Health Committee invites submissions on the options available to the UK Government, including the respective opportunities, risks and trade-offs involved.”

Published written evidence is available from over 80 groups, such as the British Medical Association, Cancer Research UK, NHS Blood & Transplant, Royal College of Radiologists…

From the report’s Conclusions:

“Businesses and healthcare services need certainty on the transition arrangements as
soon as possible
Patient care, both in the UK and Europe, is at risk of being compromised in the event
of a disorderly Brexit. Businesses and services, like Government, need to plan for all
outcomes to avoid any disruption to the supply of medical products. However, with only
13 months until the UK exits the European Union on 29 March 2019, healthcare services
and businesses, including those manufacturing and distributing medicines, remain in
the dark. Many businesses told us they are having to prepare for a worst-case scenario
despite the cost because time is running out for a transition period to be announced. The
Business Committee were told of risks that companies forced to invest in contingency
plans for sites in Europe may not find those sites and associated roles returning to the
UK, even if the contingency was no longer required. We are encouraged that both sides
of the negotiations are now discussing the terms of a transition period. However, if the
announcement, and details, of a transition period is delayed beyond March 2018, more
businesses will be forced to invest money in contingency plans at the expense of this
funding going towards advancing patient care. This is an unnecessary cost and distraction,
which should be avoided.
Businesses and healthcare services must not be forced to transition twice. It would be
unwelcome for life science businesses and the NHS to transition twice. The UK Government
should seek to agree an implementation period wherein the current regulatory status quo
is maintained to avoid imposing unnecessary burdens on the life science sector. The Health
Committee urges the Government to reach a position by March that will enable both sides
to set out detailed information on the arrangements of an implementation period for the
life science sector.”

Instead of putting valuable resources into research, companies such as Glaxo Smith Kline are spending vast sums on contingency planning.

“Phil Thomson of GSK told us:
I can tell you that our latest estimate is somewhere between £60 million and £70 million of cost to be as prepared as we can be in a no-deal, hard Brexit situation. … We have to move on some of this now because the timeline to implement the laboratories takes 18 months. We cannot and do not want to be in a situation as a company in March 2019 where we have some sort of disruption in supply.”
Stratford4Europe invites you to read the report and to ask, “Is It Worth It?”.

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